Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

Copper, trees and other corona photo fantasies

"The Eye of the Plant" (Courtesy)

In my last blog “My Saxophone, My Shield” I described the medicinal properties of copper and its alloys brass and bronze, especially regarding our current challenge: COVID-19.  With my rationale came a bit of magical realism regarding my saxophone’s mystical properties.  At the same time, I…

  • apologize to all those who immediately went to the pharmacy to buy copper supplements
  • apologize to those who might have hoarded copper and brass spittoons they found in local antique stores also selling home hardware (hence allowing them to be open during this time of official closure).
  • remind readers that melting down USA pennies is a Federal crime.

Nevertheless, after publishing my last diatribe (some called it a meditation) I did find these two provocative ditties:

1) The first item was from an article in entitled: Why copper could help prevent future pandemic, and what it does to coronavirus

It stated the following to further confirm copper’s medical properties:

“Speaking to on why the virus disappears so soon on copper surfaces, Prof. Michael Schmidt, an immunology expert, explained that copper has a schizophrenic nature. This attribute means that with its high conductivity, coupled with the back and forth electron movement, it has a strong anti-microbial action. ‏A research article published as early as 2015 indicated that copper can effectively combat respiratory illnesses caused by viruses linked to SARS. In the research, use of anti-microbial copper (copper plus alloys) destabilized and inactivated the coronavirus within a couple of minutes on a simulated fingertip that was contaminated. The research noted that the viral genome of the human coronavirus was also destroyed upon contact with copper surfaces. One would wonder why the metal has not yet been incorporated in the fight against this COVID-19.”


2) The second item was a graph from the NASDAQ documenting the recent rise in the price of copper to 2.35, since the flowering of corona in the Western world.  (This is not the highest it’s ever been; it reached 4.574 in 2011).

“Copper Graph” (commodities; NASDAQ)

These two items, however random as they are, do seem to substantiate copper’s “law of attraction”.  But enough of that! Today I travel to other realms.  I ask myself, “What’s around me  that can also heal my soul? What are those easily accessible elements in my immediate reach that can also protect me, in addition to the common accoutrements of protection (i.e. N-95 mask, face shield, rain-suit, etc.)?”

“Knight in Armor” (Courtesy)

First, I take a long look at our garden, designed and built by my wife Ruth.  For once I understand why painters have always revered flowers. I also realize that I have been blind to flowers’ infinite beauty and healing powers. Each one of them screams out “drink me”.  While basking in their radiant light and brilliant colors,  I recall Dylan Thomas’ exquisite line in “Poem on His Birthday”

That the closer I move

To death, one many through his sundered hulks,

The louder the sun blooms

And the tusked, ramshackling sea exults;….

“Flowers 1” (Courtesy)
“Flowers 2” (Courtesy)

The bloom is even “louder” as we move closer!:

“Flower Close Up” (Courtesy)

Part of my garden reveals the healing power of nature’s forms.  In his book entitled The Power of Limits (Proportional Harmonies in Nature, Art & Architecture), Shambhala, 1981, Gyorgy Doczi describes the multitude of mathematical forms inherent in the nature around us.  Doczi celebrates the “golden mean”, also based on the Fibonacci series, named after the famous 12th century Italian mathematician: (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, etc.). Doczi reveals the myriad ways that this underlying principle is found around us: flowers, trees, animals, human beings, sea shells, water falls, motions of the sea, etc.

“The Fibonacci Series” (Courtesy)

Staring at these forms brings me to another state of mind.  For me it’s a form of meditation.  This dimension of my garden is infinite.

Golden Mean Form 1 (Courtesy)

Especially when we look closer!

“Golden Mean Form 2” (Courtesy)

Other plants embody forms that at first seem totally random.  However as we focus and enter deeply, we begin to see a “free form” with a certain order, or as Einstein once explained it, “God does not play dice with the universe”.  In the following picture, we see a “polyphony of groups” where the symmetry is found in each sub-grouping of leaves, with each group juxtaposed in a seemingly random fashion. This polyphony is doubly healing and even more mysterious.

“Freeform” (Courtesy)

The trees which are adjacent to my garden on Kore HaDorot Street in Talpiot are stately; they have stood the “test of time”.  They are the epitome of heroism, dignity and nobility, the kind that Beethoven sung about in his symphonies.  For me the Kore HaDorot trees represent more than perfect shape, form, movement and color.  They symbolize and ideal to which we are often blind.  In a bizarre sense, this corona-time is a blessing in disguise,  for we now have time to appreciate all that we were blind to in our haste.  In Rabbi Abraham Heschel’s elegant words, we are filled with “awe and wonder” but are left speechless.  Their movements are a slow dance which is hypnotic, varied and unified.

“Solitary Tree” (Courtesy)
“Group of Trees” (Courtesy)

At home, aside from the grandeur, there are the simpler pleasures such as the sound of my bass flute.  It soothes like no other. My  body vibrates from its rich low sounds; this is true for both player and listener.  I am blessed to have this instrument.

“Bass Flute” (Courtesy)

There is also the illusory  “family Zoom time”. In this time of super isolation, voices and images of loved ones do help, though after the experience it’s kind of like eating Chinese food–no matter how much you eat, it’s not enough.

“Family Zoom Time” (Courtesy)

And there is the blue color of the sky, the sea and even an imagined blue that only exists in paintings as in this one:

Anonymous (Courtesy)

At home packages arrive. It’s a ritual.  But sometimes one receives something unanticipated, like the picture below. A friend, filmmaker Eduardo Retyk, made this somewhat heroic portrait of me.  Is the copper image is flattering? Perhaps even embarrassing? Well, given my current weight challenges in isolation I am grateful for the imaginary portrait!  Besides, the picture reminds me that humor is ultimately the cure for what ails us.

Image (Eduardo Retyk)

Of course all of the above, and more, are part of a total picture, the sublime and ridiculous.  The grand and the humorous. Yes, life can truly be amazing when we slow down, open our eyes and ears, breathe, laugh and share.  This is one of the secrets to surviving isolation and the coronvirus scare.

About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and educator. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He has been a recipient of the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Composers and the National Endowment of the Arts (USA). His teaching has included Bennington College, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; residencies at Stanford University, York University, California Institute of the Arts, and others. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.
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